Now that I have calmed down sufficiently to return to my computer, and the steam is no longer rising from my head, I will register my rage over the President’s turning the Connecticut-school shootings into an occasion not just for another exploitative campaign-speech but for a demonstration of his view that he is more important and powerful than not just, say, the Catholic Church, but the National Football League, as well. Obviously, Mr. Obama could have pre-empted regular programming on all the networks at just about any time he chose – including, say, the final 15 minutes of the pre-game hype for the Patriots/49ers game – but instead, possibly just to show he could, he elected to cause us to miss the first 15 minutes of the game itself. For those of you old enough to have read Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” while our schools still considered it less dangerous and subversive than pornography, the President’s speech may have seemed about as close as we have yet come to a Presidential channeling of a pronouncement by Big Brother over a Nineteen Eighty-Four surveillance telescreen; the whole country had to halt whatever it was doing until the entire pronouncement had been completed.
I am as revolted and saddened by the shootings as the next guy, but I do not view them as an excuse to renew the gun-control debate or to score other political points. I have read the transcript of the President’s speech, and it is an unmistakable warning: once again, the President does not intend to let a good crisis go to waste, and in this case, he clearly thinks that MORE GOVERNMENT is, as always, the answer. I do not feel even slightly comforted, or better in any way at all, as a result of the President’s remarks; I feel only belittled, exploited, and manipulated – and angry over being denied the privilege of finding comfort in a manner of my own choosing: in this case, the chance to escape for a while from life’s occasional random tragedies by watching a good football game.